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Feeling hungry? ‘Intense’ hunger is an ‘often missed’ early sign of type 2 diabetes

Diabetes is a medical condition that currently affects around four million people in the UK. The majority of cases are type 2 diabetes, which is often caused by certain lifestyle habits. Both types of diabetes result in the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood becoming too high.

As with any health issue, the sooner you spot the symptoms, the sooner you can seek medical help.

Doctor Prashanth Vas, from the London Bridge Hospital, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.

“Although type 2 diabetes is traditionally seen as a condition that develops in middle-aged, however, alarmingly, cases in young adults have soared by 23 per cent in the past five years due to the obesity epidemic,” he said.

“The early signs of type 2 diabetes are often subtle.

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“As a result of this, most people do not know they have high blood sugar until they have been diagnosed through screening, incidental blood tests and at times when they first present with complications.”

One sign to look for is polyphagia – or “intense” hunger.

Doctor Vas said: “Polyphagia describes the condition of intense hunger and is an early warning sign of diabetes.

“The food you eat is converted by your body into glucose, which your cells use for energy. To absorb glucose, your cells require insulin.

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“Yet, if your body is not capable of producing enough, or any, insulin or your cells combat the insulin produced by your body, glucose cannot enter your cells, resulting in hunger and fatigue.”

He shared other early warning signs that signal type 2 diabetes.

Frequent urination and thirstiness

“Polyuria, a condition that describes frequent and/or excessive urination is an early warning sign for changes in your blood sugar,” Doctor Vas said.

“If you have high glucose levels the body tries to balance these levels through filtering excess sugar from your blood through the kidneys.

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“As a result, the kidneys release the glucose from the body through your urine, increasing the frequency with which you must pee.

“Having to go to pee more often at night may also be a symptom of diabetes.

“Another common symptom that is linked to polyuria is extreme thirst (polydipsia) since the body loses water along with the glucose when you pee excessively, leading to dehydration.”

Vision changes

Doctor Vas added: “High blood sugar levels are frequently associated with vision problems such as blurry vision and cataracts.

“Exposure to higher blood sugars leads to changes within the lens of the eye which can cause this symptom.

“Those with diabetes are expected to have regular eye check-ups because longer standing diabetes can lead to the damage of the blood vessels in the retina, which if unchecked, can lead to permanent blindness.”

He urged people to see a doctor if they noticed these symptoms.

If left untreated diabetes can lead to complications such as:

  • Irreversible nerve damage and a greater risk of foot ulcers
  • Blindness
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Kidney involvement leading to kidney failure.

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